I hadn’t been in The Cabooze in nearly four months. I know it sounds cheesy but I kind of felt like I was a missing my best friend. Sure, Cabooze isn’t my favorite venue in town but I love the staff, adore the door woman and know I will always be safe and have a good time while there. After a quick hug at the door, I walked into the venue and was greeted by The Cabooze’s signature sticky feel and stale smell. I know that sounds awful but to me it was perfect and it felt like home. Matisyahu and Stephen Marley’s brought their Strenght to Strenght Tour to town.
After a DJ set from some locals, and a drawn-out intro, the first of the heavy-hitting double header bill, Matisyahu, took the stage to the roar of the nearly sold out crowd. The 38 year old wasted no time jumping into a nearly hour long set full of laid back beat, intense beat boxing, and an overall happy-go-lucky vibe that took over the entire venue with ease. I’m sure that you instantly got the iconic image of a Chassidic Jew in your head (what with the black hat, beard and payot- or the curls that frame the face of Chassidic men) when you read Matisyahu. Sure, that’s what seemed to catapult him into the spotlight and I would by lying if I said that iconic look wasn’t the reason I fell in love with everything about this guy. Being a Jew myself, it gave me something to relate to and, although I have a love/hate relationship with religion in general, watching him follow his passion while keeping with with the tradition was something that truly inspired me. Well, that whole look is gone and has been since 2011 but his passion is far from gone and the way Matisyahu and his band mates can transport you to a truly beautiful place mentally even though you’re physically sweating profusely and dying for just a little bit of personal space will never seize to amaze me.
With six full length albums, a couple of live albums (including his infamous Live At Stubb’s Vol 1), Matisyahu has been a figure in the reggae/hip hop scene since the early 2000’s. His unique blend of reggae with a rap-like beat while keeping a light-hearted, airy vibe about the music overall is what sets him apart from others (and sure, that Chassidic era in his life helped shine a spotlight on him too). His Wednesday night set was full of some old classics that I couldn’t help but sing along to and some new hits that, although I couldn’t sing along to them, I couldn’t resist but move around to the beat. His music has always been infectious. If you’re having a terrible day you can put on one of his songs and feel a sense of comfort when you thought there was no comforting. His live shows are no different and when his set was said and done, although exhausted, I felt a sense of energy and passion come over me. Much like my Tuesday night show, any worry I had walked into the venue with last night was gone by the time Matisyahu exited the stage.
Closing out the night of beauty was the one and only Stephen Marley (yes, as in Bob Marley’s kid). I have seen all of the Marley kids and grand kids on multiple occasions. Each of them has a distinctive style and sound which I absolutely love and I can say, without a doubt, that Stephen is one of my favorites (no offense to the others– you’re all amazing). Stephen took the stage with a laid-back energy. In such a busy world where we are always connected to drama via our phones, computers or whatever else, Stephen taking that stage was like a breath of fresh air and, after snapping a quick pictures, I found myself wanting to turn my phone off and just enjoy the calm vibes and relaxed atmosphere that he had created throughout the venue. Much like Matisyahu’s set, Stephen’s set consisted of new and old songs that blended in perfectly with the covers that were sprinkled throughout his set. Regardless of what song he was playing, the passion that radiated off the stage never changed and it had me captivated until the final note was left hanging in the air.
Throughout Stephen’s set, the packed audience could be spotted with giant smiles on their faces and a shaking booty or nodding head. I’ve pointed this out before but feel like it’s something that leaves an imprint on me every time I go to a reggae show– the people and the vibes at a show like last night’s show is something that just can’t be put into words. There’s a sense of community even though the audience is full of strangers. At one point I started feeling a bit light headed due to the heat and the woman next to me noticed and promptly offered a sip of her water. It’s moments like that that made me fall in love with this whole concert going lifestyle. It’s very humbling to be reminded that, in the end, we are all just humans and we are all we have to look out for others and be kind. Although that idea seems to be alive and well at most shows that I go to, it seems to be magnified at reggae shows and, although you won’t catch me jamming to a bunch of reggae music on a daily basis, it’s what keeps me coming back time and time again.
There was no mosh pit and no drunkards taking out by security last night. There were no fights, only hugs shared among friends and strangers. Our world can get pretty ugly at times but at least we still have concerts to remind us of the beauty that exists.